In the sports hall of Chester Catholic High, Handbridge the air is filled with the happy sounds of joyful children playing as relaxed parents watch from the cafe area of Inflatabubble, Chester’s newest family attraction. Owners Jamie and Steph Hall opened the venue on the 23rd July after a long delay due to the pandemic.
“We originally looked at setting up a trampoline park in Wrexham” says Jamie. However planning permission was refused for the proposed site in Wrexham. During a family visit to Inflata Nation in Manchester the couple decided to pursue a different route. “We realised that it would be a lot more fun.”
The 450 square metre “Inflatable theme park” currently operates during school holidays and on weekends. “Its not lots of individual small inflatables its one enormous unit. We have a Ninja warrior course on there, you can challenge our staff to race you through it. We have drop slides, basketball, a toddler section with slides, a climbing wall. Theres lots of different equipment which our staff use for games
“Sessions are aimed at young families, age range of 5- 12 for day time sessions, in the morning we do a toddler session for younger children “. The venue is Covid safe with all touch points and furniture sanitised in between sessions and visitors for each hourly session waiting outside until the previous group has left.
14 jobs have been created, several of whom have been recruited from the High School’s sixth form. ” The difference here is our staff are interacting and playing games with the children, you don’t just pay and get left to it. ” says Jamie. Alongside his wife, his parents and uncle are also involved with the family business. “My family started here in the 1950s in Chester Market with Jim’s Haberdashery , which closed in 2017. ( See Jim’s Haberdashery to close after 60 years of trading – The Chester blog ). Staff member Julie joined the team from the now closed Reflections also in the market.
“My parents are retired now, they don’t actually work here, they just keep showing up!” He jokes. “We have been running SEN sessions for children with autism or specific educational needs who may need the activities tailoring towards them, for example we turn the music off. A lot of people will know David from the market, he actually works with people with additional needs and he is helping with our sessions here, and we have had some lovely feedback praising what he’s doing here. ”
Of his future plans for the venue, Jamie admits that moving the inflatable is a logistical challenge as it weighs 3.5 tonnes so hopefully long term a permanent location can be found.
” We are fully booked for every one of our sessions for the last 6 days. and we’ve had lots of lovely comments and already had repeat visitors. We can’t believe the response from people in Chester, they really love it. We need to find a permanent location, but we won’t do that until we can find a venue that is accessible for people that have come to this venue. People have said they like it here because they can get the bus into town and then walk here. We are not too far from the city centre so easy for people to get to if they don’t have a car. Its so huge that finding the right venue could take some time.
” I love the idea of providing happiness to people, and I think we need it even more now after the last 18 months.”